It’s a little unfathomable that in about six months Depeche Mode will be celebrating their 30th anniversary. For a group whose very appellation implies a passing trend, the group has outlasted almost every band of the genre they helped create and have been arguably the most successful and consistent, from “Just Can’t Get Enough” to “Personal Jesus” to “Dream On” to “Wrong,” the first single off April’s Sounds Of The Universe, their 12th album.
Of course, there are dozens of other well-known songs interspersed. But despite worldwide success, the band remains oddly niche. “With Depeche Mode, you either love them or you don’t think of them,” explains keyboardist Andy Fletcher via telephone from Spain. “We don’t really get the average person.”
Apparently, there are enough exceptions to the average person to sustain arena and stadium-sized world tours (this one is appropriately titled “Tour Of The Universe”) featuring the British innovators. Depeche Mode’s fans have been unquestionably dedicated and are still multiplying three decades into the band’s existence.
But they have to take it a little easier these days, as they are getting older. Crooner Dave Gahan suffered from gastroenteritis early on in the tour, and a few days before the band was wrapping up their European leg, Gahan tore a calf muscle at a show in Bilbao, as Fletcher relays.
You’re on your way over to Portugal tomorrow?
Well, we might not be because Dave’s got a calf tear. He did it during the gig last night so he’s at the hospital having an X-ray on it. At the moment he can’t walk, so we’re going to have to wait and see. It’s not going to threaten the American tour I don’t think. Thing about Dave—unlike me, I’m the keyboard player, see what I do is stand there—but he’s running around (laughs).
Sure, you can just hide behind that thing.
With two calf tears, I could still play.
Your world tours have become these massive endeavors. Dave also had a gastronomical problem earlier in the tour. You’re on the road playing a huge venue or stadium every day or two for almost a year. Is this starting to take its toll?
We are getting older, that’s true. I think there’s a bit of bad luck on this particular leg. Generally speaking we’ve always been good about not canceling many shows. In some ways, we’re a victim of our own success. We’re very well-known all over the world, and when we do tours, we feel that we owe it to these countries really. We can’t just not play most of these places, or just play in England, a couple of gigs, and a few gigs in America. We’re really happy that after 30 years we’re still able to tour, in fact our tour seems to be getting bigger and bigger. We seem to be attracting new fans all the time and old fans seem to be keeping with us.
We’ve got a pretty decent schedule going these days. We basically work for two years and have a year off. When I talk to my friends about that, they don’t see it as that hard (laughs).